Laura Olsen from Laura Olsen Events created a magical wonderland in The Berkeley Fieldhouse with her Narnia themed style shoot. Reid Lambshead from When He Found Her took majestic pictures of the magical transformation. What follows is the insiders peek into the process of this magnificent creation.
What was your favourite part of this whole project?
Laura Olsen: I honestly don’t know if I could pick between the beginning or end of the process as my favourite part! When Jocelyn of Sugarbelle Cakes presented the Narnia theme, I couldn’t stop dreaming up ideas. But that moment when it was all set-up, and I looked up and saw the Fieldhouse chandelier above the table and how perfectly it finished off the set, I almost lost it.
There are themes running through the Narnia books of “friendship” and “loyalty” these themes seem so appropriate for a wedding style shoot. What themes did you pull from the magical book series in your process?
Laura Olsen: Oddly enough, I don’t know if any of us had actually thought about any themes or motifs other than the seasons! We knew that the winter season was what most would associate with the books and wanted to approach it a little differently, especially after experiencing what felt like the longest winter of our lives. In the initial discussions about the shoot with Jocelyn (of Sugarbelle Cakes) and Reid (of When He Found Her) we knew that we wanted to play with the spring season when everything starts fresh and love is in the air, both of course, so appropriate for weddings. When spring arrives after a long winter it feels like you are finally taking a deep breath in. It is the same feeling I felt when I saw that moment in the movie where everything melts away and loveliness appears.
The style shoot was a collaborative effort among different professionals in their areas of expertise. How did you co-ordinate their efforts to deliver such a marvelous outcome?
Laura Olsen: For me, a creative shoot needs to not only be inspiring for couples, but also have a lot of elements that are attainable, so it was important to collaborate with vendors of the same mindset, especially those who use their hands to make or find unique things rather than opt for mass produced items.
We also had an insane number of vendors involved and as I definitely communicate better visually than verbally, having everybody on a secret Pinterest board was imperative to our success. The organization of this shoot was almost too easy where every time an update would come through from one of the vendors, it was like they had literally been inside my mind and were pulling out things I could only dream about. Pinterest definitely helped me to get some sleep!
There are so many interesting foods in The Narnia Books from wild fensey (Naranian weeds) to Turkish delight. How did the particular foods of Narnia play out in the style shoot?
Laura Olsen: Oh gosh. Jocelyn (of Sugarbelle Cakes) was a dream. That gal’s mind is like opening the door to Narnia itself; there is endless imagination in there. Her talent is phenomenal and she is such a trooper. If you look closely at the sweets table, you will notice everything from the Turkish Delight, hot chocolate with handmade marshmallows, figs, pomegranates, pears dipped in edible gold to macaroons and meringues! She even added a few cakes in there for good measure, all hand-made and hand-painted with completely edible accents. We were texting all week before the shoot wondering how we were crazy enough to tackle this theme (we are both perfectionists) and that we thought we had gone over the top, but when it all came together it was exactly as it needed to be.
What inspiration did you draw from the Berkeley Fieldhouse as a setting for the style shoot?
Laura Olsen: What stole our hearts about the Fieldhouse and Church was the natural beauty and amazing light. You have done such a wonderful job restoring these buildings in keeping with their original purpose. We had all envisioned the sweets table in front of the teal and gold wall in the Church and when you had agreed to work with us we breathed a huge sigh of relief knowing that our shoot would have an incredible backdrop. My favourite spaces are those that mix crisp colours with rustic and vintage chic accents and the Fieldhouse is exactly that. Its crisp white walls and breathtaking gold chandeliers were so important to making the tablescape feel complete.
The style shoot really takes the viewer into the world of Narnia. What magical and mythological elements did you pull out of the Narnia stories?
Laura Olsen: I love a tablescape or display that keeps you finding something new every time you look at it and I wanted this one to be over the top, filled with goodness. We wanted to appeal to that sense of wonderment that leaves you speechless at first as you take it all in. We knew we didn’t want to be too literal with the theme so we took inspiration from it instead. The cherry blossom centrepiece, teacups, place card accents of the mini wardrobe, gold lion and Ice Queen’s crown and, of course, the food elements were our most literal (and some mythological) elements from the books. The rest of the physical items like the moss, logs, florals, wood table, birdcages and silver pieces and incredible mismatched china paired with the colour schemes of soft cherry blossom pink, olive green and gold spoke more to the woodsy theme.
So often people have so many voices to listen to when finding the themes for their special events. What advice would you give someone searching for a meaningful theme for their event.
Laura Olsen: I always tell my clients to think about the things that really define them as a person or couple. Write down all of those favourite ideas and see if there’s a common theme among all of them. I remind them to be open to the opinions and ideas of others as there can be value in it, but to first and foremost make sure the event is something that speaks about them. For those who know their theme, I ask them to tell me what the ultimate, full-blown, over the top event would look like, then we stand back and pare down to the really important pieces so it doesn’t get too kitschy.
In an urban setting such as Toronto how can the incorporation of elements of nature in event design become a treat for the guest sensibilities as much as a rich dessert?
Laura Olsen: I feel like there has been a shift where people are starting to see the value in having gorgeous green space in the city, especially when it comes to an events. We are seeing more couples wanting to bring the outdoors into spaces with lots of natural lighting. We are also seeing an extension of the wedding season through to late September and even early October which accommodates more outdoor weddings outside of the wicked hot months of July and August. Nowadays, many guests attending events are expecting to be wowed visually and not just by a fantastic meal so tying elements of nature into the event design is becoming increasingly popular.
Thank you Laura Olsen for creating such beauty and for sharing your great inspirational insight
Photographer: When He Found Her
Planning and Styling: Laura Olsen Events
Venue: Berkeley Church Field House
Cakes and sweets: Sugarbelle Cakes
Florals: Botany Floral Studio
China Rentals: Vintage China Hire
Invitations: Have and Hold Design
Hair and Makeup: Ashley Readings Hair and Makeup
Bride’s Dress: MRS. Bridal Boutique
Bride’s Headwear: Headmistress
Bride’s Ring: Barry’s Jewellers
Groom’s Attire: GotStyle Menswear
Jr. Bridesmaid Dress: Two Birds Bridesmaid